davidgillon: Illo of Oracle in her manual chair in long white dress with short red hair and glasses (wheelchair)

Distance covered yesterday, c 900m there with a descent of 24m in the first half, pretty much braking all the way - I've reached a landmark and worn my first pair of wheelchair gloves through to the gel on both thumbs. Hands were unpleasantly hot by the time I'd slowed onto the level!

c950m back with a 22m rise, 2m of which happens in about 10m on a corner. I'd have to choose a different route if I couldn't get out and push those 10m. I in 5 is not practical. But apart from that I pushed it non stop, if very slowly in places. I did have the traditional little old lady asking if I would like a push, but she did it aboot 10 feet from the crest of a slope, and there's a straight 150m with a slight descent immediately after, so of course I whipped by her as soon as I crested it.

So total distance about a nautical mile, which I think is the furthest I've pushed apart from the couple of days in Athens (and that was all downhill).

What taking the two slightly different routes confirmed is that I have substantially more difficulty on cambered pavements, and that my left arm is only capable of getting me up a kerb with difficulty. Because of a car being awkward, I ended up doing one slope on the opposite side to usual, The side I usually do it on has flat paving, the opposite side has the same slope, but is steeply cambered, it was far more difficult than it normally is (this is where I had the little old lady intervention). It's not simply a matter of me, though, the new chair isn't great at holding a line on a cambered pavement, it has a strong tendency to turn into the slope. The clown chair was  just as bad, the GPV, with cambered wheels, made it not an issue.The particular problem I have with this is it means I need to brake with the uphill arm while pushing with the downhill, and if my dud left arm is the downhill one, this is massively less than ideal.

I rang Wheelchair Services on Friday to say I definitely need a 3" cushion as discussed (and noted) at the handover, the seat to footplate gap is too short otherwise and my legs aren't flat on the cushion. I strongly suspect they measured me while I was sitting on a 3" cushion. I'm currently using the 2" they gave me, with a 1" I had in the house under it, which makes the difference between being in intolerable pain within an hour or so, and being able to sit for at least three hours.. Apparently fixing this will need one of the therapists to ring me back and discuss it. I'll raise the camber issue at the same time. I've checked the manual and the XLT can have cambered wheels, but you need an extra part in the wheel mounting to accomplish it, rather than just adding a couple of extra washers as on the GPV, so that'll probably need to be ordered in if I can get them to agree to it.

davidgillon: Illo of Oracle in her manual chair in long white dress with short red hair and glasses (wheelchair)

I managed to give the new wheels a decent test drive on Saturday, and they're so much better it's ridiculous. It also helps we're finally having some decent weather, though a touch too sticky.

I ended up parked in the further of my two regular parking spots in Rochester, which is about 700m from our regular Saturday haunt on the High Street, so a decent but not excessive push, with a helpful downhill slope going (the height difference is about 40ft). So it's about 50m on the road I park on (no handy kerb cuts to get on the path), across a busy junction into the Vines, a local park, 200m on its paths, which are tarmacced but not exactly flat as the avenue of trees has some major roots under them. Then out into the precinct at the back of the cathedral for about 250m on bricked roads (the paths are partly possible, but the heritage flagstones make them worse than the road and there's one stretch where neither side is passable for a chair), then out onto the main road between Castle and Cathedral, a quick cut through the disabled car park (which you can never park in - only 6 bays, and which they now want to sell for development - grr!) and on to the High Street

I'd realised the chair was significantly better than either the clown chair or the eBay chair as soon as I pushed out of Wheelchair Services on Thursday, but this really showed it off. I'd expected it to be better than the clown chair, that was the whole point of moving to a rigid frame, but not that it would be markedly better than the eBay GPV, which is another rigid. I'm tentatively putting that down to inflatable tyres vs solids (which were an unpleasant surprise on the eBay chair, but at least I didn't end up paying for them). Rolling resistance appears to be significantly less, the Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres seem to have quite a narrow contact area, in fact I was a bit worried about slowing down at that first junction, which has quite a sharp descent into it. It was fine in the Vines, though I nearly lost it coming out of the park and onto the road behind the Cathedral - there's a driveway I've been using as a kerb cut, but if I'm hitting it that little bit faster then I need to be taking it at closer to a right angle, which means slowing down however I do it.

I'd say the ride on the bricked road was actually better even than the GPV. In the clown chair (which is now back with Wheelchair Services, presumably to be refurbished as a fleet chair) it was literally tooth-rattling, the GPV smoothed that out to a rumble, and with the XLT it's barely even that. Not much to report on the ride past the Castle, apart from motorists who see a wheelchair on the road and freeze like a rabbit in headlights, nor really on the high street, though people who erect scaffolding on the pavement and then block the way through it with barriers for no reason are not my favourites! One definite advantage to the new chair is that I don't need to fold it to get it through the doors of the George Vaults, I still need to get out, two steps up inside the door, but the XLT is light enough to pick up and lift in if I want.

On my own for lunch unfortunately, one set of friends are in France, the other has a sick family member, but no problems getting a table, and I took a chance on the special (a chance as the waitress's description was a bit garbled) and oh, boy was it worth the wait - chicken breast (the bit I heard) on a bed of freshly made ratatouille, with a smear of pesto (the bits I didn't). The ratatouille was absolutely gorgeous.

Back to the car was a bit more of a chore, 40ft uphill rather than downhill. On the bright side I made it almost all the way without stopping, the first time I've actually managed that, though I was close last week. It's pretty clear my shoulders are a problem on even fairly slight upslopes, though there's a slow improvement. And the 'almost' is effectively a mandatory stop, there's a 10m stretch of path that's too steep to safely wheel going uphill. Especially if you've forgotten to put the anti-tips out....

I'm still figuring the best way to fit the dismantled chair into the boot of the car, there may even be a way to do it without dropping any of the back seat (the boot in my Yaris is pathetically tiny), but I need to spend some time experimenting.

Next stop was PC World, checking their ink prices - £10 more than HP? Thanks, I'll pass. I've actually taken all three chairs to PC World to try them out on a decent-sized  flat surface almost as soon as I've gotten them, and the XLT is just a pleasure on that kind of surface (so long as salespeople don't step out in front of you!).

And at least I didn't have to demolish any displays to get into the aisles this time, he says innocently ;)

Then up to Asda for some grocery shopping. Thankfully the XLT will connect to their wheelchair trolleys, the GPV wouldn't, the vee front is too narrow and I was worried I might have to revert to online orders only if the XLT wouldn't fit them. Of course they were a) in the middle of restocking, with pallets of stuff blocking my way everywhere I went, and b) they'd decided to rearrange all the aisles so no one could find anything, which made it a thoroughly irritating experience. But at least the chair was a non-issue; well, until the trolley broke free as I wheeled to the car and pivoted out into the roadway. So only just connects, I guess.

Back home after that, and asleep on the sofa from 7PM til Midnight, sigh. My body is all too predictable in its reaction to exertion.

New chair!

Jul. 7th, 2016 05:06 pm
davidgillon: A pair of legs (mine) sitting in a wheelchair (GPV)
New chair! Picked it up from Wheelchair Services this afternoon.

Far better than the old chair, you can tell that the moment you start to push, but with a couple of minor niggles. The back is higher than expected, nearly as high as the old chair, where I have to use it folded, but as it's the correct width, that isn't quite such an issue. And the cushion set-up isn't ideal, the lower part of my thigh isn't properly supported.

We've agreed I'll give it a couple of weeks in the current setup before doing anything, but if I want they'll chop the uprights and push handles off level with the top of the upholstery and/or swap me to a three inch cushion rather than the two inch they've given me. I'm pretty certain after sitting in it for a couple of hours and getting uncomfortable that we will be going for the three inch cushion. I've temporarily added a one-inch underneath and that seems to be better, but I can't really tell if it's a complete solution until the discomfort wears off and I can start from scratch.

Getting it into the car is slightly more complex than the old one (cushion off, skirtguards off, fold back, wheels off, lift), and needs part of the back seat dropped as my boot is tiny and it's a rigid frame, but the weight to be lifted is trivial compared to the lump that was the old one.

Side-on view of a rigid framed wheelchair

davidgillon: Illo of Oracle in her manual chair in long white dress with short red hair and glasses (wheelchair)

I was actually planning to ring Wheelchair Services today and chase them up about my new chair, their 65 days to deliver being about up, but they just rang me to say I've an appointment next Thursday to pick it up.


* Yes, I'm like a kid with a new bike.

davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)

2nd wheelchair appointment, not quite as good as the first one, but okay.

Not helped by them running an hour and a quarter late, and me being half an hour early. Though fortunately that meant the three hail showers had blown through before I needed to head back to the car (doubly good as I'd left my coat in the car).

It was one Kent and Medway Wheelchair Services wheelchair tech and a local wheelchair dealer in a consultancy role (apparently they'd got him in to advise on one particular patient and were running as many past him as they could while they had him).

The negative was that they took the Quickie Argon off the menu right at the start, no explanation beyond 'unfortunately we won't be able to supply that one'*. OTOH they did offer either a Quickie Life or an Invacare XLT, both of which I was able to take a look at. The difference is the Argon was an L-shaped frame, the Life and the XLT are box frames, the Argon might have sat on the passenger seat in the car, the Life and XLT will have to go in the boot, almost certainly with at least one rear seat folded, but seeing as I never use the rear seats and can waddle between boot and driver's door that isn't an issue.

I was amused they apologised for having the XLT set up as 'a bit of a grannie's chair' (height adjustable push handles and armrests), it looked much better with them off. They were completely on board with my preference for a rigid chair, which took the folding version of the Life off the table, and in the end they left the decision to me, which basically came down to weight. The XLT was just slightly lighter with wheels on, and much more noticeably so with wheels off - advantage of a titanium frame. I was tending towards the XLT anyway, but asked their opinions and both said XLT.

I suspect I'm not going to get as good a cushion as I hoped, because I'm not a full time user and not high risk, but the tech did say I should come back to them if I was having issues and I'm willing to buy a good one if needs be. Interestingly the tech confimed my pelvis is twisted - he asked about spinal issues such as scoliosis and I pointed out the right knee forward of the left thing, which he'd already spotted. He got down on his knees and had a feel and confirmed it's twisted both rotationally and in elevation when I'm sitting, though I'm not certain which side is high - if it's right then I've got even more of a leg length discrepancy than I thought as subjectively it's my left leg that's slightly short.

I was chatting with the dealer while the tech went off to get the order forms, and he pointed out that even though the XLT was lighter, the castors on it were much heavier than those on the Life (6"x2" vs 6"x1" - very apparent when you tipped the chairs up and felt the momentum when you let the castors swing around into your hand), plus the narrower ones will have a lower rolling resistance, so we opted for those when speccing it. He also noted the Life is more expensive, but he always offers the XLT first to his customers.

They were a bit surprised I'm only a 16" seat width when they measured me up, apparently I look chunkier than that. There wasn't a great deal of customization to be done, but they were willing to work with me on that, skirt guards vs arm rests, narrower castors, and my choice of colours - I went for the sandblasted titanium, up to two weeks longer for delivery, but it's not going to chip, and pneumatic tyres vs solids. The only thing the tech balked on was folding push handles (which the dealer pushed for), apparently they're a repair problem, so I had to settle for low-profile instead.

Their standards are it should be available within 65 days at the outside. I'm not sure if the two weeks extra for the frame gets added on, but they seemed to think it should be noticeablely less than that, so hopefully by the start of July at the latest I'll have a decent active user chair.

* I suspect I ran into the difference between an OT concerned about maximising function, and a wheelchair tech concerned about minimising budget, and different interpretations of the fact I'm not a full time user. Seeing as I was surprised to be offered the Argon and I'm ending up with about what I'd hoped for beforehand, but in a titanium frame, I can't complain too much.


davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
David Gillon

September 2017

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